Every year after evaluating snowmobiles for the upcoming season, Snow Goer magazine names a Snowmobile of the Year and Top 10 list, along with the 2019 Snowmobile Of The Year.
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The Top 10 Snowmobiles Of 2019
Once again this year more than 175 machines have been launched into the snowmobile market, offering different engine, chassis, suspension and feature packages for the specific tasks an individual snowmobiler is trying to accomplish – whether that’s being the fastest across a lake, the smoothest through corners, the highest on a mountain, the craftiest in a powder-filled sled, the most capable for handling big projects or the most comfortable for a long cruise.
Still, with so many models, how does a rider narrow the focus down to the best machines for their intended purpose? Our analysis may help guide your decision-making. We’ve been evaluating sleds for decades, and each year our test riders select a Snowmobile of the Year based on technology, plus a Top 10 snowmobile list based on functionality. These are the snowmobiles that best serve their intended niches or otherwise stand above the crowd.
Polaris Indy Evo
Perhaps the most important new sled for 2019, the transition- and newcomer-focused Indy EVO takes what Arctic Cat and Yamaha did last year with the ZR 200/SnoScoot joint project to a new level. This isn’t an upsized youth sled, but rather a downsized adult sled. Its lower ride height, smaller ergos and limited engine output make it a great option for teens or folks new to the sport, and hopefully it’s a major part of getting snowmobiling back to its glory days. Its easy-to-ride nature and limited top speed make it a good t for aforementioned riders, and it can later be upgraded to Indy 550 status as rider skills evolve. Its affordable price tag ($5,299) is also alluring.
Ski-Doo Freeride 850 E-TEC 165
The sled deemed Snow Goer’s “king of the mountain” for 2018 didn’t go through any notable changes for 2019, but it didn’t have to. It’s still the king due to its hard-hitting engine, well-designed chassis, nimble off-trail and deep-snow handling, plus it still has enough trail manners to make it to the powder. It’s fully shocked (read: fully adjustable KYBs on all four corners) and ready to rock, yet it also has a delicate side, capable of dancing in powdery fields or prancing along the tightest tree-lined mountainside, thanks in part to its tMotion rear suspension and FlexEdge track. Add in the quick-hitting and precise-running E-TEC 850 twin and you’ve got an award-winning combination.
Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE
The SRX is about more than the return of a historic name, or the incredible top speeds the machine can create: It’s about the return of an attitude, and the appreciation for a subset of the snowmobile market that sometimes feels like it’s been overlooked. Some in the so-called “lake-racer” crowd have been feeling displaced by tall-set modern sleds that may actually ride better and go faster than the old triple triples, but don’t have the low-slung feel or image. Finally, their hero sled has returned, boasting around 200 hp and a throwback speed-run feel while still having a decent amount of suspension for provide a quality ride.
The Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat iACT
What’s this – the Thundercat gets its own place in the Top 10 when the SRX is already here? Both come with a 1-inch lowered ride height, shorter-lugged track and more efficient rear suspension for more top-end speed. They also get new Fox iQS shocks on the ski suspension and skid frame’s rear arm that allow a rider to alter damping rates on the fly, plus new switchwork and a better brake. The Thundercat, though, comes with vastly superior skis that offer better handling plus better clutching based on the pre-production machines. The SRX wins on fashion, the ZR 9000 Thundercat wins in a couple of key areas on function, but neither will lose a race to any other stock snowmobile.
Polaris 800 Switchback 144
For rockus fun on or off the trail, Polaris created a winning combination with its Switchback Assault 144. Power hits are instantaneous, creating a punchy powerband that gives a rider supreme confidence whether trying to lift the skis over an obstacle, squirt up a steep hill or catch air off the backside of a eld approach or jump. Off-trail it has an easy-to-find balance point for plenty of carving capabilities, yet it can groove down a trail nicely. It’s all made possible by the well-balanced Axys chassis and IGX rear suspension, among other features. An 850-powered Assault is an equally good choice, but the 800 H.O. engine offers plenty of scoot, and is available all season long.
Ski-Doo MXZ Blizzard 600R E-TEC
BRP has long made great trail sled, with light chassis, well-laid-out ergonomics and smooth-running engines – in fact, the engine might have been too smooth for some 600-class riders. That’s changed for 2019, as Ski-Doo has wedged a new 600 twin engine into its latest REV Gen4 chassis to create a winning combination. It still feels like a Rotax with E-TEC injection, meaning it idles at a low RPM, is efficient with gas and oil and has sewing-machine-like run quality – it’s just that this sewing machine spins the bobbin more quickly, offering more juice every time the rider asks for it. The benefits of the REV Gen4 package are icing on the cake.
Polaris 850 Indy XC 129
It’s the classic good-cop/bad-cop story that ends with a positive result. The bad (as in badass) part of the equation is the new 850 Patriot engine that barks loud, hits hard and is quick to y off the handle, all while carrying a four-year warranty to assure you that everything will be OK. The good (as in happy-go-lucky) part is the new Indy 129 package, with the Pro-CC rear suspension and full tunnel inside the Axys chassis that provides better stutter bump performance and what many people consider a superior visual appeal compared to the Rush and Switchback models. The resulting machine is a blast, whether driven at a trouble-maker’s 10/10s
Ski-Doo Grand Touring Limited 900 ACE Turbo
Maybe it’s because it’s based in Quebec – home of big-mile touring on endless trails – or because of the deep heritage each of its team members has in snowmobiling, but Ski-Doo has long built some of the sport’s best touring machines, and it has upped its game yet again. The Grand Touring Limited moves to the new REV Gen4 wide chassis, with top-notch ergos for the driver and passenger and the latest Ski-Doo four-stroke engine package, the 150 hp 900 ACE Turbo. Beyond that, it’s Ski-Doo’s attention to details that makes this sled Top 10 material – from the SilentDrive track system to adjust-on-the-fly suspension to massive storage with the LinQ attachment system, nobody caters to high mile, two-up customers like Ski-Doo.
Arctic Cat ZR 200/Yamaha SnoScoot
The defending Snow Goer Snowmobile of the Year is back, this year as the smallest sled in the Top 10. The joint project between Arctic Cat and Yamaha resulted in a diminutive, 9.5 hp, trail-legal snowmobile that garnered a lot of attention – and sales – a year ago. Now potentially overshadowed by the new Indy EVO, the ZR 200/SnoScoot still deserves a place on this list due to the important role it plays in transitioning youngsters onto a slightly bigger snowmobile, and giving families a reason to spend more time riding together. Whether it’s being ridden between mom and dad to a cozy trailside pitstop or only used bombing around on the lake, it’s a well-targeted snowmobile.
Polaris 800 Titan Adventure 155
When Polaris launched the Titan models for 2018, a lot of people didn’t really know how the new broad-shouldered bullies fit in: Were they legitimate sleds that a regular person could ride, or just for the 1 percenters who live on the severe fringes? Polaris officials must have sensed that hesitancy, because they spread a bunch of Titans around the Snowbelt last year as demo sleds, and the result was rave reviews far and wide. Yes, a Titan seems almost mighty enough to pull a full-sized tree out of the ground by its roots, but it will also handle decently on a trail, crawl around in powder and provide a cushy ride.